Paralysis. Groping for some coherence. Doing menial chores just as a substitute for creativity, in the desperate hope that something will arise, something out of thin air or gray matter. Pairing socks. Washing dishes. Paying bills. Biding time till something, anything, happens along.
He picked up his guitar, started strumming, but he wasn’t of a mind to play one of his own songs, let alone write one. The almost empty page, virtual, stared back at him from the laptop. He played slow, mournful songs, cracked his voice like Hank Williams, the Original, the one responsible for a million shots of whiskey and a thousand writers who wanted to be Hank but wound up settling for something similar such as themselves.
He needed a symphony, and all he could muster were three-chord songs, sad ones, dating back to a time when the radio played tunes that weren’t about pickup trucks, beer, and fun-loving women. He had lived too long for the love of fun. Fun was tempered by responsibility, solitude, and, yes, paralysis.
Cynthia would’ve helped. His wife had the effect of opening the venetian blinds of his life. He got up and opened the blinds of his house, but symbolism was on vacation today. She was in Baltimore, making money to make up for the lag. His lag. He was supposed to be doing something about it. There were no jobs. He was overqualified for his profession. His profession was vitally interested in the underqualified, which it could chew up by getting them qualified and then spit them out, too. Fortunately, it took a while.
It was a bitter thought. His was a bitter world.
He should remember that things could be worse. He should accentuate the positive, such as being thankful that he kept no pistol in the top drawer. It wouldn’t have mattered had Cynthia been home. When she called, it was all he could muster not to seem desperate, not to seem irrational, even though he was. He had to be an actor to his own wife.
Ha. It could be worse. He could be acting about an affair. Or a drug addiction. A criminal act. Fortunately, he wasn’t that good an actor, and he wouldn’t do such things, maybe because it was wrong but, more likely, because he was incompetent. He’d rather just sit here, looking at the blank and virtual page, knowing he had all it took to proceed except the motivation to do so. A laptop was great for editing, but it sucked when a man wanted to crumple a page and toss it in the trash. Crumpling a laptop was expensive, and he didn’t have any money, just a wad of credit cards.
The task wasn’t writing a chapter or a song. It was a matter of faith. He was losing it. Not the faith in God. The faith in progress. Success. Virtue. It wasn’t its own reward. It was the Publishers Clearing House.
Usually the guitar was enough. It gave him serenity and perspective. It turned his soul around, “like the bright sun shining on the deep, blue sea,” as he had written in one of his songs back when he wrote lots of them.
Where once he needed Cynthia or the guitar, now he absolutely required both. Pretty soon, he would need the guitar, Cynthia, and a six-pack. The six-pack would, of course, eventually cost him Cynthia, which is why he didn’t have it now, and the more his soul required, the less likely the presence of a quorum.
He read a book. He read a magazine. He checked his Twitter feed. He posted a few witty retorts. Perhaps he could muster more wit than retorts required. All he knew to do was round up all the usual suspects, hoping one would provide him insight into the human condition but settling for some universal insight into his own.
All he knew to do was wait.
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